Monday, October 17, 2016

Online I-94 Application Now Available for Travelers at Land Ports of Entry

From GreenbergTraurig, 10/12/2016

On Sept. 29, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it has enhanced the I-94 website for travelers arriving to the United States at land ports of entry.  Travelers now can apply and pay the $6 fee for their I-94 card online up to seven days prior to their entry.
An I-94 form is needed by all persons except U.S. Citizens, returning resident aliens, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting or in transit.  Air and sea travelers will continue to be issued I-94 records during the admission process at the port of entry.  However, for those travelers seeking admission to the United States at a land port of entry, taking advantage of this new enhancement will quicken and simplify the admission process.
The application requires travelers to submit their biographic and travel information; in return, they will receive a provisional I-94 card after submitting the application and payment of the fee online.  The application collects the information that would otherwise be collected during the in-person inspection at the land port of entry, including name, date of birth, country of citizenship, passport details, visa details (if applicable), and petition/SEVIS number (if applicable).  To finalize the I-94 issuance process and admission, the traveler must present him or herself at the land port of entry within seven (7) days of the application, submit biometrics, and be inspected by a CBP officer.  Travelers always should be prepared to show evidence of their residence, employment and/or travel plans to the inspecting CBP officer, depending on the category of nonimmigrant admission being sought.
CBP expects for the new online I-94 application process to increase efficiencies during inspection and admission, decrease paper usage, and streamline the process at the land border, thereby reducing operating costs.  The secure website is easy to use and payment can be made via credit card, debit card, direct debit, or through PayPal.

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 8 is the Deadline to Apply to Add 7 Months to a 17-Month STEM OPT Extension

From USCIS, 08/01/2016

If you currently have a 17-month STEM OPT extension, you may apply to add 7 months to your STEM OPT period. If you want to apply for this 7-month extension, you must properly file your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (with the required fee and signature) on or before August 8, 2016. USCIS will deny applications filed after August 8, 2016.

You may apply to add 7 months to your 17-month STEM OPT period if:

  • You are currently participating in STEM OPT based on a 17-month extension;
  • You request the additional 7-month period by filing a new Form I-765 between May 10, 2016 and August 8, 2016, and within 60 days of the date your designated school official’s enters the recommendation for the 24-month OPT extension into your SEVIS record;
  • You have at least 150 days of valid employment authorization remaining on your 17-month STEM OPT period on the date you properly file your new Form I-765; and
  • You, your designated school official, and your employer meet all the 24-month STEM OPT extension requirements.

For more information on the STEM OPT extension, visit the USCIS Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mission India Announces Significant Delays in US Nonimmigrant Visa Processing

From Morgan Lewis, 06/28/2016

The US Department of State recently announced that US consular posts in India are experiencing unusually long wait times for nonimmigrant visa (NIV) interview appointments. Current wait times for H and L visas are between 75 and 100 days. Current wait times for nonimmigrant visa interview appointments (not including B, F, and J visas) are as follows:

  • Chennai—75 days
  • Hyderabad—93 days
  • Kolkata—96 days
  • Mumbai—88 days
  • New Delhi—100 days

  • These backlogs will likely increase throughout the summer, especially with the enormous increase in student applications that typically occurs in the summer months. The Department of State hopes to add consular positions to alleviate the increase in visa wait times. There are also plans to open a new US consulate in India in the foreseeable future.

  • Requests for expedited processing of visa applications will usually be granted only on a humanitarian basis involving the loss or threatened loss of life. Those required to travel abroad who must obtain a visa stamp in India should consider delaying travel to India until after the backlogs have subsided. Should an Indian national have reason to travel to another jurisdiction, applying outside of India as a Third Country National may be possible, however, Indian nationals are urged to check requirements at consular posts carefully since not every consulate accepts such applications.